How Have Other Christians Hurt You?

Discussion in 'Spirituality/Worship' started by rockyjs, Jun 8, 2004.

  1. rockyjs

    rockyjs Member

    I've been working on a book about dealing with chronic illness as a Christian. For many of us the most hurtful comments and attitudes have not been from strangers, but from fellow Christians.

    For example I've been told that all genetic diseases are a curse from Satan and that we can break those curses (I have a genetic muscle disease).

    Others have given me "a word from God" about what I should do to get well. And some have said I am harboring unforgiveness or bitterness toward someone and it's manifesting itself as a sickness.

    I've spent much of my life working through these issues and finding peace and comfort right where I am. I believe in divine healing and have experienced it myself on two occasions, so I'm not coming from a cynical viewpoint, just a compassionate and realistic viewpoint.

    If any of you would like to share it would help me address a very sensitive subject by presenting how much words can hurt when they're spoken thoughtlessly to someone who is suffering.

    Please let me know if it's okay to use your story (no names or location will be given).

    Thanks -

    Jan
  2. Mikie

    Mikie Moderator

    Who latch onto religion to espouse their own personal biases. This isn't only with Christians, but with all religions. Just look at how many wars are fought in the name of religion. There are zealots everywhere.

    I've worked with insurance agents who pray at their desks and never miss an opportunity to tell the world how religious they are yet they would steal a deal out from under another agent without even giving it a thought.

    It is true that regardless of what people say, you will know them by their fruits. Truly religious people are there to offer comfort and not judgement to others.

    Love, Mikie
  3. rockyjs

    rockyjs Member

    I think much of that comes from fear and ignorance and even superstition. There is also a distorted sense that they are better because God hasn't "punished" them with an illness.

    I have seen so many dear people tormented by others in their church or community and some even become very depressed because they think God must not love them.

    One extreme example of fanatacism was a lady I knew who had a chronic illness. Her cat gave her so much joy and really helped her cope with the condition. One day her pastor told her that the cat had become an idol to her and that God wanted her to kill it to show her commitment to Him. She actually did it.

    For those who are involved in a loving and caring fellowship it's hard to even fathom that these things go on in the name of religion, but it's actually not that uncommon. I'm hoping to reach those people that are suffering not only from their physical condition, but from the emotional abuse that can hurt even more.

    Jan


  4. monkeykat

    monkeykat Member

    I want to start by saying that the people who have said the following things to me are often coming from a place of ignorance and/or legalism. There is so much unbiblical and extra-biblical teaching out there because many ministers do not study the bible correctly...knowing the history of what was written, why it was written, who it was written to, the context of the passage or verse and how it relates to God's character or biblical theology in general.

    When people latch onto unbiblical and/or legalistic teaching, fear-based and/or performance-based beliefs then they often become narrow-minded, harsh, judgemental, self-righteous, etc. I think it is out of this place that people often make ignorant remarks...so I try to forgive them for it.

    some remarks since I've been ill:
    "You're husband needs to tell you to get up off your dufus (aka ass) and do something".
    As a woman was walking away she said, "Don't tell me you're sick, Don't tell me you're sick".
    Another woman told me, "Well, you just need to get past yourself and start doing things for the church".
    My m-i-l is actually a wonderful woman who really cares about my husband and me, however, she told me that she knew why I wasn't healed and the reason was, "Because you don't attend my holiness penticostal church". She also carries a lot of judgement toward my husband and I because we aren't "holy enough" according to her standards. Her standards are higher than Gods I think...LOL.
    My sister died of breast cancer because of people telling her not to go to doctor's and preaching the "faith message" to her that if she had faith that she'd be healed. She left 4 young children behind. It was heart-breaking...still is.

    I also believe that God heals and I've been healed a few times myself. However, I also believe in the sovereignty of God and that there is mystery to our faith. I believe that I need to continue to trust God in the good and bad times. He give me the grace to trust him. Sometimes I feel angry toward preacher's who do not study God's word and misinterpret it to their own liking. They harm many people. I wonder how many others have died, like my sister, because of unbiblical teaching???

    Hope this helps:)
    Monkeykat - Kathy
  5. myaeggi

    myaeggi New Member

    Read my post on the Chit-Chat board. "Need advice with a touchy situation."

    Michelle
  6. Montysmum

    Montysmum New Member

    Unfortunately there are well meaning Christians out there who really believe what they are saying is correct, only this week I stayed overnight with a family acquaintance after seeing a Rheumatologist which was a four hour drive for me, so I didn't want to do the drive home. The lady told me I needed to forgive the cause of my illness before I could get better. I laughed at her because there is nothing to forgive, some things just seem to happen !
    She sent a fax to my folks after I returned home, which I saw when I visited them today, it stated I needed to get to the 'root' of my illness! So she hasn't given up !
    She really believes that unforgiveness is the cause of illness.
    I wish you all the best.
    Linda.
  7. htrdpstr

    htrdpstr New Member

    I was a pastor for a few years and know the problem in our Christians churches. It has happened many times to me and my wife who also has Fibro and CFS. We are in the age of the Laodecean church and I see i everywhere. No love or compassion. Don't want to know or care to know. Judging is a great curse upon the Christian and ONLY our Lord going to do the judging. I forgive and ask the Lord to open the closed eyes of those who have them closed. It is really hard to go to church feeling like we do and put a happy face for everyone. We are suppose to be human and we have bad times and good. Not a mask. Keep praying and saying the true word of God. Believing by His stripes we are healed; even when we don't feel like it. Faith please God.. He has healed all of us but it hasn't come to pass yet. God Bless.
  8. booboo56

    booboo56 New Member

    I am in alot of pain from fibro, and people from my church have a hard time understanding how I feel, because I don't look sick. Have you ever read the 40 days of purpose by Rick Warren? In there it says that God allows us pain to draw us closer to Him. And I must admit that I am drawing closer to God thru this, and I really wouldn't want to change that. I will keep you in prayer.
    God bless, Joan
  9. suzbee

    suzbee New Member

    Hi, rockyjs,

    I have plenty to say about this, because I was in the "revival/river/pentecostal/third wave/apostolic renewal" mess for about 20 years and got out in 1999. Later on this evening when it gets quiet, I will collect my thoughts and share with you.

    Interesting topic!

    Hugs,
    suzbee

    P.S. Sometimes I wonder if it was my involvement in all that junk that made me sick in the first place! LOL! ...Later ...
    [This Message was Edited on 06/11/2004]
  10. rockyjs

    rockyjs Member

    I no longer struggle with trying to feel accepted by God and I'm fine with my physical ailments. I just ache so much for those who are being condemned and judged every day because they haven't been healed.

    This attitude is most prevalent in charismatic, pentecostal and word of faith churches. If you've never been a part of one of those denominations you probably would never know there is a great deal of pressure in some congregations to be "whole."

    When I see so much fear and refusal to accept the reality that we live in an imperfect world, I wonder if those who are judging really feel secure in their relationship with God. I know one woman who was dying of cancer and wouldn't allow her children to be told because that would be a negative confession and then God would refuse to heal her of her lack of faith. Her children were devastated when she died because they'd had no preparation.

    When I read through the Bible I see plenty of examples of suffering and plenty of promises that God will be with us through it all. My own health problems have opened many doors for me to share my faith and to pray for others. I would love to have been given a different path, but I don't see perfection in this world as the ultimate reward for the Christian.

    I look at people like Joni Erickson Tada and the lives she has touched because of her paralysis. Even Ronald Reagan, knowing that the last years of his life would create a hardship for those he loved, accepted the divine plan for his life. What an example of trust.

    Years ago when I was going through a very difficult relapse I felt abandoned by God. I couldn't understand why He would let me suffer like that when I had a family to care for. I challenged God to show me how He felt about it all.

    A young man who was preparing to go to China as a missionary called and asked if he could come pray for me. My first thought was, "Oh no, not again." I was expecting another well-intentioned but insensitive conversation about healing.

    Instead when he got to our home he just knelt in front of me and began weeping. He cried for many minutes, never saying a word. Then he wiped his eyes, stood up and said, "Thank you," and left.

    I was a bit dumbfounded. But it totally changed my life because I finally understood the heart of God. He doesn't want me to suffer physically any more than I want to. For some reason I can't fully understand in this life, it is part of His plan for me and I can rest in the assurance that He feels my physical and emotional pain and loves me more than I can imagine.

    I know many have written posts about feeling bitter or angry with God. The Psalms are full of questions and challenges related to suffering and not understanding why things happen to us. It's perfectly okay to feel that way. My prayer is that even though we can't see God we will still believe in His goodness and love and that His peace will get us through these times of despair.

    Jan

  11. jolly

    jolly New Member

    This is just a wonderful thread. One time I looked up all the references in the Bible to "affliction" and it was eye-opening. Especially about Paul suffering from an affliction.

    I kind of look at it as being refined in the fire. Not that I don't fight everyday to feel better and get rid of all the pain I'm able, but when looking for a reason, I don't feel like it's a punishment. There's too many really fine people I've come to know to feel such a thing. God's people will be refined and made perfect in the end and this must be part of the process.

    But, boy, do I hate it...lol.........Jo Ellen
  12. suzbee

    suzbee New Member

    This has turned into a marvelous thread. Thank you all so much for sharing.

    Sorry it took so long to write a reply. I thought it would be better if I cooled my thoughts down a bit before answering. I didn't want to turn this thread into an argument on theology, because that's not what this forum is about. :)

    There were various reasons I left the movement mentioned in an earlier post, and I won't address them here. For about three years I was so ill I rarely left the house, even to go to church, so I studied online. That was where I discovered the Apologetics Index. It set me straight about how I and the others who hurt me had been mistaught and led astray -- sometimes by well-meaning ignorant people, and sometimes by power-mongers. If early in my life I had not been well-taught to begin with, I might not have realized how far off the track I was. It took a long time to get over my indignation over such treatment. It took even longer to get over feeling stupid for being taken in by the lies. I'm not angry about it now. All I feel is pity and forgiveness.

    Anyway, here are JUST A FEW of the ridiculous and hurtful things people said and did. They said I was sick because:
    - I didn't have enough faith
    - I must have done something wrong (and made God angry)
    - I must have done something right (and made Satan angry)
    - I probably had some kind of idolatry in my life
    - I had a demon of sickness that needed to be cast out (upon which they would immediately take it upon themselves to start attempting said casting out -- bleah)
    - I needed to be "delivered" from something
    - I must need to forgive somebody
    - I must be bitter about something
    - someone was praying "witchcraft" prayers over me
    - there was a "generational curse" on my family that needed to be broken
    - they "sensed" that my husband must belong to some sort of "evil" secret fraternal organization (which I will not name here)
    - I was probably not "in submission" to my husband
    - I was probably not "in submission" to the pastor
    - I was probably not "in submission" to the leadership

    All I had to do to get well was:
    - let people lay hands on me and pray (I do not disagree with this if it's done correctly -- I know it works)
    - let everybody come to my house and "prayer walk" around it
    - get items out of my house that had evil spirits in them (sheesh -- and these people [whom I loved and still love] called themselves Christians -- this idea is pure pagan animism. There is nothing recorded in the Bible about any sort of evil spirit inhabiting an inanimate object, like a rock or a book. Ahem -- but I digress ...)
    - give up my "Jezebel spirit" -- which nobody EVER understandably defined (anyhow, how insulting!)
    - allow Ms. __ to anoint me with oil and prophesy over me in tongues
    - let the visiting evangelist touch my head and "slay me in the spirit"
    - claim and receive my "God-given right" to healing by "speaking" healing over myself (are you believing this?)
    - allow others to "speak" healing over me
    - never say I was sick -- that was a "negative confession"
    - put my hand on the TV when "Benny" was on
    - go see "Benny" in person (well, I did, out of curiosity, and whooo did I get the real picture on him)
    - do something kind for someone else (pretty hard to do when you're stuck in bed)
    - read the book of Job and pray
    - drink Barleygreen and carrot juice

    Wow. When it's all together in a list, it looks pretty bad. I am shaking my head. (And grinning.) Certainly many of the people who did these things could not possibly be true Christians. So perhaps the question is a moot point, as one other person on this thread suggested.

    Yes, I agree with others here that those who ask God to refine them will definitely be refined. :) In 1979, my husband and I had the marvelous opportunity to be baptized in the River Jordan near the Sea of Galilee. When the pastor asked us if we had a prayer request at the time, we said, "Yes, we want to ask God to mold us into something He can use." Well!!!! :-D

    Well, rockyjs, you are welcome to use any of this that helps your book.

    Hugs,
    suzbee
  13. jolly

    jolly New Member

    is how far from the Bible that the teachings have gone. Sometimes I think it might be the great delusion. Just a couple of things I've found by reading the Bible are there's no such thing as the immortal soul and nobody goes to heaven when they die. And the idols and images are rampant in churches. No wonder so many people leave the church. We're starved for the truth.
  14. rockyjs

    rockyjs Member

    That's exactly the type of thing I was looking for. Sounds like we've had many similar experiences!

    Thanks for sharing -

    Jan
  15. rockyjs

    rockyjs Member

    You're right, there are a lot of references to affliction (and suffering) in the Bible. Each denomination has its own way of interpreting scripture and I guess most of us tend to find the one that we most agree with.

    But like you said, it's important for us to read for ourselves and not just let someone tell us what to believe. I have a One-Year Bible that I read from every day. You get so much more continuity that way and many insights into how God deals with His children, especially in the Old Testament.

    I respect different viewpoints and religions - I try to understand where others are coming from. I live my life based on my own convictions and try to mind my own business, but when I see so many Christians being hurt by other so-called Christians I feel that I have to do something.

    No matter how much we may differ on theology, there is no doubt that God wants all of us who call ourselves Christians to exhibit compassion and not condemn our brothers and sisters who are sick or suffering.

    Thanks for sharing -

    Jan
  16. suzbee

    suzbee New Member

    Glad to be of help. :) Actually, it helped me some just to put it all in a list.

    Hugs to you,
    suzbee

    P.S. I love the photo on your profile. There's nothing like Colorado or the way the sun shines there. We lived in Boulder from '74-'86. By the way, you don't look old enough to be a grandmother! :)
    [This Message was Edited on 06/13/2004]
  17. monkeykat

    monkeykat Member

    Hi Jan,
    I meant to tell you that you could use anything that I has written above previously.

    Like you, I know a woman who was dying of cancer and wouldn't allow her children to be told because then God wouldn't heal her. Her children were devastated when she died because they'd had no preparation. IT WAS MY SISTER, PEGGY. SHE DIED AT 42 Y.O. AND LEFT 4 YOUNG CHILDREN BEHIND B/T THE AGES OF 2-11.

    That was 8 years ago. I have done a lot of study since that time and realize that it's important not to throw the baby out with the bath water. I've studied church history and realize that when people are hurt or mistreated by religious systems then they shuck the whole thing, start something new and of course, the new religion ends up with problems of it's own.

    I think that it's important to be discerning of what we hear as Christians. We, as Christians, need to let the Bible interpret us and not put our own biases into interpreting scripture. Sometimes a teaching is false because it's overemphasized or it's not taught in balance with other truths. What I see in the charismatic / pentecostal/etc. churches is that overall they don't study theology which leads to much error in teaching. Also, there is rarely a "theology of suffering" presented in sermons. Then ministers and people in these churches feel they have to find someone to "blame" for a person's suffering/illness, etc. So either you don't have enough faith, you are speaking your illness into existance by mentioning that you're ill, it's the devil, you have sin in your life (unforgiveness, pride, etc), you don't go to the right church or minister for prayer, etc., etc., etc. I don't believe that single thing these churches teach is wrong. There is some truth in what they teach but there is also much error.

    Interesting thread.
    Monkeykat - Kathy

  18. rockyjs

    rockyjs Member

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I'm so sorry about your sister. I have spent quite a bit of time with people who are terminally ill, and even if they are not religious, I find that their family often won't talk to them about dying. That is tough, but when someone has a chronic illness or disease and can't talk about their symptoms for fear of being forsaken or condemned, that's just as tough.

    As you said, there are so many interpretations of things that aren't necessarily based on truth, but I don't see how anyone can deny that the Bible teaches us to weep with those who weep, or speak words of encouragement, or treat others as we want to be treated.

    I love your comment about your mother-in-law's standards being higher than God's. I can think of many times when my family was exposed to contagious illnesses because church members refused to admit they were sick and stay home. They would say they were being tested and the symptoms didn't really exist, or they were going through a cleansing process (sneezing and coughing), or it was just Satan trying to make them think they were sick and if they stayed home they would be defeated. I do pity those people.

    I've heard many explanations about the apostle Paul asking God to heal him 3 times, from mistranslation of the passage to the "thorn" being a person, not an illness. Oh well...

    I appreciate all the input.

    Jan